Just minutes before the draft, NBC Sports Network analyst Pierre McGuire entertained Chara with the question of picking his teammate Tim Thomas
, or fellow Slovakians Marian Gaborik or Marian Hossa.
However, when the time came for the first pick of the night, Chara shocked many with the selection of Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk.
But for the B’s blueliner, it was the perfect selection.
“Why Pavel first? I think it’s pretty obvious,” Chara said. “He’s an unbelievable player [and] like I said on stage, I really admire the way he plays the game and acts on and off the ice. [It was] my individual goal to get him first and I was happy that I could do it.”
The other All-Star captain, Ottawa Senators forward Daniel Alfredsson rivaled Chara’s pick and selected teammate Erik Karlsson, setting the stage for Chara to pick Tim Thomas
with his second choice.
“I think it’s important to pick any player,” Chara said. “But to pick Timmy, it’s obvious that he is a great player, obviously a tremendous goaltender and he deserved to picked second.”
Thomas, who was the leading vote-getter among goaltenders, was very pleased with Chara picking him second.
“Yeah I appreciated it a lot,” Thomas said. “You’re fortunate when you’re a goalie to get in here anyways because you can’t be picked last – you got to be picked in the first 10 rounds. It’s an honor and I’m happy with the way it played out.”
Alfredsson stuck to his teammates and selected Jason Spezza with his second pick, and Chara fired back with Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin.
Imagining Datsyuk playing alongside Malkin is scary, but the fact that they can cause havoc on separate lines was the deciding factor for Chara.
“Well I think that’s more for coaches, but that’s one of the scenarios you can have,” Chara said. “If you separate those two they can totally make a line. You can’t go wrong in the All-Star game like I said.
"You have so many talented and great players that you’re going to have a good team no matter what.”
Throughout the draft, Chara said he made sure he avoided any Senators, but in the meantime picked up Slovakian friends Marian Gaborik and Marian Hossa.
“I think it’s fair enough to have the team guys together especially for Ottawa fans and people in Ottawa,” Chara said. “I think when they can have home team players on the same team, it makes it very special for them.
I didn’t want to interfere with that, I respect that and I’m sure they understood that my goal was to keep my countrymen and teammates together as well. I’m glad it worked out for both sides.”
Chara also picked up former teammates Dennis Wideman (15th pick) and Phil Kessel (8th) and was excited to have them back on his team.
“Phil is having a great season, he’s really become a star player in this league,” Chara said of Kessel, who has 26 goals this season. “And I know Dennis for sure, he’s fun to be around. He’s also having a great season, he’s really stepped up his game with [Mike] Green being on the sideline. He deserves to be here and I’m happy I could have him on my team.”
But as the draft board filled up, Chara’s teammate Tyler Seguin
waited to have his name called.
Seguin was one of the last four players in the draft, including Jason Pominville, Jamie Benn and Logan Couture.
“I don’t know if [nervous is] the word, but I was definitely getting hot back there,” Seguin said. “[I was a] little nervous when all four of us went on the stage, [but] we weren’t embarrassed because every one should have a good time.
"But anytime there’s a draft like that, you’re not wanting to go in the bottom.”
However, Chara scooped Seguin with his 18th pick and offered his teammate a hug.
“I needed a hug at that point,” Seguin said. “He’s a big teddy bear.”
After Alfredsson took Pominville, Chara selected Benn, leaving Couture the luxury of receiving a new car as a token for being the last pick.
But for the defenseman-turned-general manager for a day, there were no hard feelings.
“It’s tough somebody has to be picked last and it’s very unfortunate, but that’s the way it goes,” Chara said. “[Couture is] absolutely a great player, a very skilled player – he’s having a great season.
"Some guys you just have to get early and some guys you really need to get. It’s the way it works out, that’s the way it is that’s the draft.
"The bottom line is to make sure everybody has fun, enjoys themselves and has good performances and that’s what counts.” ---Anthony Gulizia